A Norwegian neo-Nazi black metal rocker and convicted killer was arrested in France on Tuesday over fears he may have been preparing a "major terrorist act", the interior ministry said. Kristian Vikernes, who is reportedly a sympathiser of Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik, was arrested by intelligence officers at dawn at his home in the central village of Salon-la-Tour, as was his French wife Marie Cachet, 25.
According to the ministry, the 40-year-old who goes by the stage name "Varg" is "close to the neo-Nazi movement" and could have been preparing a "major terrorist act." Vikernes, who was once sentenced to 21 years in prison in Norway for stabbing to death one of his friends, had been under surveillance for several years.
But anti-terrorism authorities in Paris opened a probe into the father-of-three at the beginning of the month after his wife purchased weapons -- albeit legally as she has a permit. Officers seized several weapons at their home on Tuesday, including four 22 Caliber Long Rifles. Vikernes reportedly sympathised with Breivik, who is being held in isolation in a high security prison near Oslo for killing 77 people in twin attacks in 2011. Breivik had reportedly sent him a long manifesto that he had worked on for years and which he published just before the Norway attacks.
The initial probe has labelled Vikernes -- who investigators say wrote antisemitic and xenophobic messages online -- as "dangerous", a police source told AFP. According to the interior ministry, he "posed a potential threat to society, as shown in the violence of his remarks intercepted online." Vikernes founded a band called Burzum in the early 1990s, which soon became a fixture of Norway's black metal scene, the magazine Guitar World wrote in 2010 after interviewing him.
But he soon lapsed into violent crime, which culminated in the murder of his friend. The anti-Christian, shrieking vocals of black metal is a sub-genre of heavy metal. Both musicians and fans of the music were involved in the burning of over 50 churches in Norway between June 1992 and 1996. Vikernes was jailed and served 16 of his 21 years in prison in Norway, before coming to settle in France in 2010.
"The stay in prison probably made me a little more extreme, in every way," he said in the interview. The mayor of Salon-la-Tour told AFP Vikernes had settled in a rented house a year ago with his family, away from the village. Jean-Claude Chauffour said the couple met several years ago when Cachet was graduating from high school. "He doesn't speak French very well," Chauffour said, adding Cachet was currently pregnant again. The young woman's mother appears to have taken care of their children, who did not go to school, the mayor said.